CPA Growth Trends, Marketing

Beginner’s Guide: 8 Ways to Use Your CRM to Level Up Your Recruiting and Retention Strategies

The business cycle has swung again toward firms’ top goals including recruiting and retention. So, as marketers always do, we pivot! It’s like you’re applying your broad skill to produce recruiting materials, show up on social media and maybe even participate in recruiting events. However, if you haven’t yet deployed your CRM to bolster your recruiting and retention efforts, it’s time.

To be fully transparent, we’re HubSpot certified partners so you will see a bit of HubSpot-centric perspective (and jargon) in our guidance here. That being said, it is just one of many excellent CRM tools out there and you can use the ideas below in most CRM systems.

Here are eight ways to use your CRM to level up your recruiting and retention strategies:

1. Run your entire recruiting process through your CRM. We’ll get into the details of this as we go, but let’s get off on the right foot. Your CRM can likely handle every step of recruiting, from running ads, to the application process, scheduling interviews, follow up and more. So please stop siloing this information in spreadsheets, random bits of paper with scribbles from recruiting events and business cards shoved into a pocket during happy hour. This will require some team training and commitment, but it will be worth it in the end.

2. Promoting open positions. Running your ads through the CRM means all of your data is being collected in one place, and it may even be possible to track an individual’s engagement from the time they clicked an ad to the time they applied. This data can help you decide on the efficacy of a campaign and discover what potential applicants are looking for on your website and how they are finding you. You’ll be able to make more informed decisions about your ads over time based on more than simply clicks and impressions.

*Advanced tip– Create recruiting campaigns within your CRM (this is something HubSpot does well), to associate your recruiting ads, organic social media posts, emails, and landing pages to really get the full picture of the efficacy of your efforts.

3. An excellent application process for everyone. This may seem basic, but if it’s not easy for a candidate to submit an application on your firm’s website (from any device!), people may be self-selecting out of your process. (Additionally, someone’s first impression of your digital presence is that they must apply by emailing a resume as a PDF attachment, it may be giving the wrong impression about your firm’s technical savvy.) Most CRMs will allow you to create a form that will integrate into your website, and then the applicant will automatically be added as a contact in your CRM when they submit materials. Use form fields to collect information such as graduation year, area of specialization, current job title, university, etc. so that you can sort and segment your database even further. If you only have this type of information in a PDF of their resume, your CRM can’t do anything with it.

You can even offer options such as uploading a video or voice note, typing information directly into the form, or sharing a variety of file types. Minimize friction in the submission process and increase accessibility while collecting the information you need to get to know them.

There are internal process benefits to this as well. Once an application has been submitted, your CRM can send notifications to anyone on your team who may need to be informed without any additional steps. You can also set rules that will automatically organize applicants to make sure they are segmented correctly for future communication.

4. Simple interview scheduling. Use a scheduling tool to get your interviews on the books without the email back-and-forth it takes to get a couple of busy people in a room together. There are all kinds of options out there (Calendly, Google Appointments and so on). We like the HubSpot CRM meetings tool because you can connect your calendar (and calendars for anyone else from your team who needs to be included) and configure it to meet your needs (meeting duration, Zoom integration, reminders). Share your link via email and invite the applicant to choose an open time. Then that meeting gets connected to their activity inside of the CRM. That means you can create other future actions in relation to that meeting, such as automating follow-up emails, recording a video interview and connecting it to their account, taking meeting notes inside of the CRM, and even creating follow-up tasks in relation to the meeting date.

5. Create a recruiting pipeline. Technically, pipelines are part of HubSpot’s sales tools, but since it’s just as important to nurture interested professionals as new business prospects, take advantage of this feature to keep your recruiting process running smoothly. Recruiting pipeline will look different for every firm, so we can’t tell you what yours should be, but take some time to think through each step of the journey, from application submission to outcomes such as, signed offer letters or politely notifying someone that you’re not moving forward with them at this time.  Remember, it’s a small world, and just because someone is not the right choice today, doesn’t mean they won’t be in the future. And you certainly don’t want people out there talking about a poor recruiting experience with your firm. Seeing each person’s application process through to a final communication is both considerate and beneficial.

6. Staying in touch over time. Use your CRM like a recruiter to remain top of mind with your professional contacts. We just discussed that every intern or applicant may not be right for your firm today, but they could be in the future. Your CRM likely has a variety of tools to help track, sort and segment your contacts to make reaching out easy. HubSpot also has notes and tasks to help further personalize outreach and keep track of conversations. This could be useful if a position opens up and you want to search for people who have previously been in your recruiting orbit so you can reach out or when a team member meets someone at a networking event who could be a great addition to your firm but not for a position you’re hiring for today.

After giving some thought to how you would like to stay in touch, create the custom properties, tags, lists and automations that you need to systemize your outreach. Make sure your job application form runs through your CRM and collects data that corresponds to your properties so you won’t have to go back and manually enter it later.  This might include university or alma mater, current job title and how they heard about you. As they move through the application pipeline (or even if they have yet to apply), it will be easy to send them the right message at the right time.

7. Cohesive communication made easy. Want to save time and mitigate risk? Yes, that was a rhetorical question. When you’re responding to people after interviews or even inquiries from a potential applicant, your recruiting team is probably sending similar responses over and over. Another HubSpot feature is the email extension, through which you can access snippets and templates right from your inbox. That means you don’t have to look around for assets or web pages to share or take time crafting a unique message in the moment.

Also, and maybe more importantly, you can keep out of trouble by sending responses your HR and legal team have approved. There’s more risk in recruiting and hiring than you may think, and providing vague information, omitting details or not quite getting it right when it comes to firm policies, or explaining that you’re not moving the candidate forward in the process can potentially lead to legal trouble. Load up your snippets library with approved responses to questions about time-off, working from home, benefits, and compensation so that every team member who receives these types of questions has what they need to respond confidently and accurately.

8. Congrats, you made a hire! Now what? As promised, we’re talking about recruiting and You’re not done when the contract is signed. Now you can use your CRM to onboard new team members and stay in touch with them over time. Starting a new job can be overwhelming, and generally involves a lot of papers and a tour where you shake a lot of hands and remember no one. Create a drip email campaign that delivers the insights your new hire really needs to be happy and successful at the firm at a cadence that they can actually digest. That might be which administrators support which partners, whom to go to when you lock yourself out of the system or get a suspicious-looking email, the holiday schedule, benefits like your EAP or gym savings, short videos from niche or CAS leaders about services the firm offers, and maybe even an invitation to have lunch with a partner or group leader.

It’s easy to let these things fall through the cracks when client work is coming at full speed, but it really can make a difference in someone’s experience at the firm. Create a plan that’s reflective of your firm’s culture and use your CRM tools to make it easy to execute.

If you’ve mostly been using your CRM to send emails and collect contact information, it’s time to level up. In fact, we’re hearing from firms all the time that they can’t take on new business until they hire more people, so it’s essential that marketing is right there helping with this critical initiative. As marketing has become more sophisticated and complex, so has the marketer’s toolbox, and the CRM marketplace is no exception. Whichever CRM service you use, you can maximize its potential to achieve your firm’s most pressing goals.

Alison Simons started in accounting marketing in 2004 as the head of marketing for a regional CPA firm. In 2013 she became an entrepreneur and Simons Marketing was born. Simons Marketing develops and executes marketing strategies that help CPA firms reach their goals. Alison is a regular contributor and presented with MassCPAs, ProVisors, AAM and is part of the BDO Alliance as a Business Resource Network member.

About Alison Simons

For seven great years, I was the head of marketing for a regional CPA firm where I would joke "if it's not a tax return or an audit, it crosses my desk." I was responsible for branding and online marketing, recruiting and firm culture, M&A vetting and communications, business development and proposals, and more. Even though I had a job, I was getting requests from firms to help with their marketing; which is, supposedly, how you know you're onto something good. In 2013 I became an entrepreneur. In order to serve more clients, I attracted a team of really amazing people who focus on specialty areas within marketing because (get ready for one of her catch phrases) "Marketing is one word that means a lot of things" and it's all too much for any one person to be good at. So, now I'm focused on working directly with clients on strategies to help them reach their goals while overseeing more of the activities. I've presented multiple times a the MassCPAs annual conference, and have been featured on the Marketing Mistakes (and how to avoid them), and Stop the Noise podcasts. I've also served as a judge for LMA.

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